• Creevey Russell

CAN I CHANGE MY CHILD’S SURNAME

Frequently, a parent involved in a dispute about arrangements for their child will ask the question: “Can I change my child’s surname?

There is no specific provision in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in relation to changing a child’s name. This means the Court does not have the power to make an Order to direct the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to change the child’s name on the birth register (in each State/Territory). As they are not a party to the family law proceedings, the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages cannot be bound by any Court Order.

However, the Court can make an order requiring a child to be known by a particular name. Or, a Court can order the parties do all things necessary to lodge documents with the Registry to change a child’s name.

In considering whether or not they should make an Order, the Court must first give paramount consideration to what is in the best interests of the child, in the specific circumstances of the individual case. According to S & H [2007] FMCAfam 97, in addition to the factors contained in section 60CC setting out how the Court should determine the best interests of the child, the Court should also consider:

  1. the short and long term effects of any change in the child’s surname;

  2. any embarrassment likely to be experienced by the child if its name is different from that or the parent with residence or day to day care of the child;

  3. any confusion of identity which may arise for the child if his or her name is changed or not changed;

  4. the effect which any change in surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent; and

  5. the effect of frequent or random changes of name.

Please contact Maddison Jago at Creevey Russell Lawyers on (07) 3009 6555 for further information.